Having a strong customer experience strategy impacts way more than just your customers. In fact, more often than not, it drives net new and growth revenue, higher employee engagement and satisfaction and, of course, brand loyalty. Take a look:

Clearly, your customer experience strategy matters. How do you shape the customer’s journey to reflect this? In

your call center, there’s an obvious way to improve a customer’s experience — taking less of your customer’s time. 

Call deflection with IVR is an important piece of the customer experience strategy, reducing wait times, repeat calls, and costs. But, imagine this: there’s a call queue with 15 customers waiting on hold. They’ve been punching numbers into your IVR to be directed to a customer service rep… only to be left waiting and enjoying your (I’m sure lovely) hold music. 

Your IVR is supposed to be a tool that’s supporting your customers. But when call volumes are just too high for your agents to handle, it does little on its own to alleviate stress for your agents and reduce hold times for your customers. 

However, when you include texting in your IVR strategy, you’ll be able to salvage your customer experience and lessen the load on your contact center’s call volume.

What is IVR

First — a little refresher. What is IVR? IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, is an automated system built into your phones. When customers call in, IVR requests information from your callers, either by voice or through their keypad. Then, it routes them to the necessary department or generates basic info for them — like their shipping status, bank account balance, hours of operation, etc. 

Why use Texting to Deflect IVR Calls?

Traditional IVR systems have their shortcomings and can negatively affect your customer experience strategy: 

  • It’s not personalized. IVR is an incredibly limited interaction between company and customer. That means, it’s a pretty impersonal experience. Think about it, if your first experience with a brand is a bot, how does that impact your lasting brand impression? 
  • It offers no record of the interaction. Customers are calling to get information from you, but when that info is shared verbally from a bot, it can be hard to remember. I’ve certainly sat on calls with IVRs, waiting for them to go through all the number options a couple times because I can’t keep track of which one fits my needs. And, when I’m done with the call, it’s easy for me to lose track of everything the voice said. But, IVR offers no written record of the interaction for customers. Customers shouldn’t have to keep a pen and paper in front of them to recall their questions and info.
  • It’s slow and inflexible. IVR on its own is a pretty slow process. Customers have to sit through the IVR as it lists a whole menu of items and repeats its message over and over. They can’t multitask because they may miss something. And, truly, customers grow impatient. This kind of inflexibility discourages customers from calling for help, and ultimately drives them away.

But, when you add texting into your IVR, all three of these shortcomings are resolved. Here’s how:

How does Texting fit into your IVR system?

Add texting into your IVR script by prompting customers to request a text from you. If they do, they’ll  immediately drop out of the call queue and open a conversation with an agent or a bot devoted to answering texts from customers. Then, they’ll start a direct conversation through their phone’s messaging. This makes for a much more personal conversation. Customers can ask questions, send media, add in emojis, in a two-way conversation.

Adding texting into your IVR also creates a record of communication for customers and for agents. It establishes a thread between your business and the customer. So, if your customer forgets anything you’ve shared, all they have to do is pop open the text thread to see the information. Best of all, when texting is part of your contact center solution, your agents can see the text history for better context on the customer relationship.

Texting is more flexible for everyone. Customers have a simple way to reach out to you from the phone in their back pocket. They can be cooking dinner, picking up their kids from soccer practice, or be in the middle of the work day and still can carry on a conversation with a customer service agent. Texting makes things easier on agents, too. An agent can handle multiple simultaneous text conversations and use things like auto-replies and canned responses to be more efficient.

Texting as Part of your Overall Customer Experience Strategy

How then does texting fit in your overall customer experience strategy? When you give your customers the option to text you, you’re giving them an easier, more efficient way to reach you. Customers today prefer fast service over anything else. Actually, 71% of consumers believe that a quick response from a service team can drastically improve their customer experience. Texting lets your customers receive that quick response and lets you serve more customers in a day.

With texting, customers don’t have to wait through an outdated IVR or wait a few hours to receive an email from you. They’re saving time out of their day by picking a flexible form of communication. And, your agents are maximizing their time by handling multiple customers at the same time. 

Give customers a communication channel they prefer and see your customer’s experience improve

This post was originally published on December 18, 2020 and was updated on February 16, 2022.